Halloween has long evolved from its beginnings (a celebration of the Celtic New Year or as the day before All Saints) into a candy-filled costumed extravaganza that finds kids salivating for bag after candy-filled bag with little thought of thehistory and traditions associated with the day.
Similarly the live music world has co-opted Halloween as a chance for bands to try on another’s music, by simply adding a couple of covers to their set or jumping in with two feet and attempting to cover an entire album. Today, Halloween may only trail New Years Eve as the most important must-see event of the year.
2009 promises to be big with the return of Phish at their Festival 8 and the heavily hyped buildup to the album they will wear this year, Gov't Mule’s Rolling Stones-inspired plans, moe.’s fan chosen setlist and much, much more.
With that in mind, Honest Tune asked some of our favorite musicians what it is about Halloween and the shows and music associated with it that makes it such a special occasion.
The task was simple – get the musicians talking. We had a basic list of questions, and we think you'll enjoy the results. Happy Halloween!
1. Is there any particular song that reminds you of Halloween? Why?
2. What is your favorite musical related Halloween memory? (Either a show you played or attended.)
3. Many bands like to don a musical costume on Halloween and cover another band's music for their Halloween shows. If you could see one band cover one album, what band would it be and what album would they cover? Why?
4. If you and your band could cover one musician or album on Halloween who or what would it be? Why?
Luke Miller – Lotus
- Ghost Town – The Specials. I used to listen to The Specials a lot in high school and Halloween was always a fun holiday then. We would dress up like dummies and sit very still outside one of our friend’s house and scare kids when they came trick-or-treating. We would video tape the reactions and get into ridiculous high school laughing fits watching them.
- Last year Lotus all dressed like rock stars that died at the age of 27. The show at the TLA in Philly had been sold-out for a while so a bunch of people were outside looking for tickets, the Phillies had just won the World Series and the parade was that day and over a million people were down for the parade. It was insane in the city, everyone going nuts in the middle of the day bursting out in song and hi-fiving each other. The show was a lot of fun too. The costumes turned out really good and we did a song from each respective rock star.
- I think My Morning Jacket covering Thiller would be pretty bad-ass.
- Well, I won't reveal our plans for this year's Halloween yet. But I would like to cover Underworld's album Beaucoup Fish. I think this is one of the best dance albums made and the grooves are just built for improvising with and expanding.
Sam Holt – Outformation
- Anything scary like Alice Cooper or Black Sabbath
- Last year we played House of Blues in New Orleans. We started at 2AM and ended at 5:30AM. We played well and was a great show, played some covers we've never played, "Hell's Bells" by AC DC, "History Lesson pt. II" by The Minutemen, "Begin The Begin" by REM, and "I Am The Slime" by Frank Zappa. It was pretty exciting.
- Nirvana cover Double Nickels On The Dime by The Minutemen because I would love to hear what that would sound like.
- Frank Zappa because I love his music so much and we would really have to be outstanding musicians to do it right.
Kris Meyers – Umphrey’s McGee
- "No More Tears" by Ozzy, because we covered this song in Halloween 2003 and it has stuck with me since.
- When I was a sophomore in high school, I saw the Ramones with Social Distortion at the Aragon Halloween 1993. Definitely one of my favorite shows and Halloween experiences of all time!
- Tough question. I think I'd like to see Radiohead cover the Dark Side of the Moon, or something like that. Something dark and somber…or something fun, like Bloc Party covering Oingo Boingo Dead Man's Dance Party. Hard to choose, really…
- I'd love to see us cover some Ministry for Halloween, but it's most likely never going to happen. Ever since high school, I've always wanted to play their albums or songs, but it's a different scene and different sound from the past. Al Jorgensen to me is one of the most insane freaks EVER, and, to me, would be appropriate for freaking out on Helloween!
Ryan Stasik – Umphrey’s McGee
- “Thriller,” have you seen the video?
- I saw Gwar by myself in 2000 in Chicago at The Vic. Went with a white t-shirt on and came home tie-dyed. Phish played The Talking Head's Remain In Light record in Atlanta in I believe 95'. That was fun too.
- I would like to see The Disco Biscuits do David Bowie's greatest hits. Most of all I would like them all to dress up as a different David Bowie, so they could switch singing and dancing as David Bowie. Why? It's obvious.
- I don't feel like I could limit it to one musician or album for Halloween right now.
Andy Farag – Umphrey’s McGee
- “Monster Mash.” Why not?
- Halloween show we played in South Bend in 99. Joel dressed as Betsy Ross. He was freaking me out all night! That's pretty normal though.
- Tool covering the album Meddle by Pink Floyd.
- “Monster Mash” by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. Because it was a graveyard smash!
Joel Cummins – Umphrey’s McGee
- As we did some of our songs to scenes from horror films back in 2007, I've always heard our songs "Padgett's Profile" and "#5" as music to go with Nightmare on Elm St. and Poltergeist since then. I love the Halloween movie theme, being a keyboardist, so that one always stands out. I suppose I also think of Linus & Lucy from the Peanuts cartoons. The Great Pumpkin was always a classic episode of Peanuts around Halloween that I would watch as a kid.
- I was in attendance for Phish's version of Quadrophenia in Chicago, Halloween 1995. That was a blast to see come to life, and the horns were a great complement to the band. I think that's the only Halloween show I've attended that I didn't play in. My favorite Umphrey's McGee Halloween moments are many. I got to open our Halloween show in 2003 at Indianapolis' Egyptian Room dressed as Moses with a keytar. That was pretty sweet. Last year's mashup event was a blast for me as well. I was Sugar Ray Charles, the blind boxing keyboard player. I think our mashup of “Thriller” and “Another Brick in the Wall” was my favorite musical moment from last year.
- I would like to see Wesley Willis cover something like the new Kings of Leon album. Great artists from totally different realms, just for something way out of the box.
- If Umphrey's McGee covered an album for Halloween, I'd like something frightening but beautiful, like King Crimson's Discipline. Its got the perfect mix of haunting (“Frame By Frame”), beautiful (“Matte Kudasai”) and driving (“Thela Hun Ginjeet”) music.
Joe Jack Talcum – Dead Milkmen
- "The Monster Mash" because my neighbor's mom when I was a kid would play it on her stereo every Halloween
- The Low Budgets first Halloween show / party at the Pleasure Bungalow in 2002. No one was admitted without a costume, including the bands. I just remember it being fun. A lot of good costumes. People got a discount if they brought candy and therefore there was a lot of candy being tossed about and crazy dancing. I could barely see through my vinyl costume mask, though, but I managed to get through the set without removing it.
- I'd like to see Felix Lighter cover Radiohead's In Rainbows. I think they could pull it off well, especially if they recruited Andrew Jacobs to help fill out the arrangements. Paul Skozilas has the voice for it and the rest of the band has the chops and I think it would be a good album to have performed in a live setting.
- I think David Bowie would be the musician and the album would be one from the 80s, perhaps Let's Dance, although Scary Monsters might be more apt for Halloween. I think that the synth-pop dance music of "Let's Dance", though, would be fun to perform and perhaps our renditions would unintentionally scare the audience which could be a good thing in itself for Halloween.
Mike Dillon – Go-Go Jungle, Garage A Trois
- “Sweat Loaf” by the Butthole Surfers Why? "if you see you mother… tell her…. satan satan satan…."
- My Top three include Billy Goat in Lawrence, the Hairy Apes in Austin and now the Go Go Jungle on Frenchman street at the Blue Nile!
- the Butthole Surfers cover the Jackson 5’s greatest hits. No need to ask why.
- Trouble Funk – Saturday Night Live in Washington D.C. Go Go!!!
Chuck Garvey – moe.
- If you mean "moe. song", then I would say "The Ghost Of Ralph's Mom". If anything is fair game, it's a toss up…. "The Monster Mash" or "Thriller", even though the latter is about horror movies…..both still creepy.
- Definitely playing Dark Side Of The Moon, in front of a giant screen showing the Wizard of Oz, in full Tin Man costume at the Tower in Philly!! There was so much anticipation on our part, the audience didn't know until the last second before the lights went down and it was very fun to play.
- Leon Redbone covering Ok Computer. Wicked cool.
Ivan Neville – Dumpstaphunk
- Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “I Put a Spell on You”… why? Sounds creepy and badass at the same time.
- Keith Richards kicking a guy’s ass who was dressed like Superman…Funny shit!
- Lettuce doing Tower of Power's Back to Oakland. I think that would be fucking perfect!
- Dumpstaphunk doing Parliament Funkadelic’s Mothership Connection. It’s something that should be done and who better to do it? Would add some horns for that! Would be a blast!
Mike Gambone – The Bridge
- From a very young age, I always found the song, "Spooky" by Classics 4, to be synonymous with Halloween.
- It would have to be when I dressed up as Rocky and we played the Rocky theme into "Eye of the Tiger."
- “The Monster Mash”. I've never really figured out why this song reminds me of Halloween, but for some reason it does.
- Halloween 2004 in New Orleans. I went to see my friend Kirk Joseph's Brass Band play at the Funky Butt and they were killing and the crowd was dancing to New Orleans brass music in costumes.
- Would love to see Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan cover U2's War. I think hearing Leonard's deep voice or Dylan's growl on "Sunday Bloody Sunday" would be as good as it gets.
- I guess I'd cover Joni Mitchell's Blue, but not because it's Halloween. Just because it's a great album.
Daniel Michalak – Bombadil
- Dave Matthews' song "Halloween." It's really the first one I heard, the ending is really great. I think the following clip is indicative. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNUqtsGo6O8
- Bryan (Rahija) and I used to play in an improvisational guerrilla marching band called the Scene of the Crime Rovers. One year we marched down Franklin Street, the main road in Chapel Hill where tens of thousands of people show up every year for Halloween. We ran into a group of pirates with drums, but we were able to fend them off with our piccolos and saxophones.
- In fantasyland, I would love to hear Sam Cooke sing The Soft Bulletin by the Flaming Lips. As much as I love Wayne Coyne's voice, it would be great to hear his material tackled by a true virtuoso.
- Polaris. Best known for their work on the short-lived nickelodeon show Pete & Pete. It was my favorite TV show as a kid, and may have been the first rock band I saw on television.
Brian Haas – Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
- “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. I can't think of a more classic Halloween song
- Our favorite Halloween memory is when Matt Hayes and Josh Raymer threw a house party a few years back and their metal jazz band Bunny Bunny played. They were so loud that after three songs the police came and shut the music down.
- Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet covering The Soft Bulletin from The Flaming Lips. It would be great to hear those big, dreamy Steven Drozd compositions reinterpreted by Skerik's band.
- Gwar! Super Halloween appropriate all year round, and they use fake blood.
Drew Heller – Toubab Krewe
- “Monster Mash.” One October when I was a little kid I got a Halloween cassette tape that was filled with ominous sounds of chains being dragged across what I imagined to be a castle floor, distant footsteps leading into the sounds of doors slowly creaking open, bubbling laboratories, and wolves howling. At the end of this cassette after all of these freaky soundscapes there was a song, The “Monster Mash.” Only one song tops “Monster Mash” for Halloween memories. “Thriller” terrified me when it first came out. It's an epic song. Every Halloween I think about figuring out some rendition of it.
- One Halloween in Asheville, some nine odd years ago, I sliced my hand carving a pumpkin before a show. I thought my hand would be fine, and that the bleeding had stopped for good. About halfway through our set my hand started dripping blood everywhere. All over my guitar and all over my fender Rhodes piano. After the show was over I remember having a blast around a bonfire with friends. I think maybe there was a keg too. It was cold outside. We stayed up til sunrise.
- I would love to see Jim Henson's original Muppets be conducted by Philip Glass. They would perform Glass's arrangement of "Dracula." I've been watching a lot of Muppets this year and they're quite versatile musically. The eeriness of Philip Glass's Dracula with the hilarity of the Muppets as an orchestra would be rad.
- Elvis. Out of respect for the king.